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The Summer Without Men

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  10,532 ratings  ·  1,134 reviews
Mia Fredrickson, the wry, vituperative, tragic comic, poet narrator, "has been forced to reexamine her own life. One day, out of the blue, after thirty years of marriage, Mia's husband, a renowned neuroscientist, asks her for a "pause."

This abrupt request sends her reeling and lands her in a psychiatric ward. The June following Mia's release from the hospital, she returns
Paperback, 216 pages
Published 2011 by Sceptre
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Average rating 3.43  · 
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 ·  10,532 ratings  ·  1,134 reviews

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Jun 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2011
My latest for CCLaP!

I will admit that I can be very smug. I've been obsessively immersed in books for so long now that I tend to have opinions on everything literary, founded or un-. So of course I had an opinion about Siri Hustvedt, wife of Paul Auster, posed kind of ridiculously in her author photo, with her black turtleneck and piercing stare, writer of--what? I'm not sure what I thought she wrote, mainstream-ish fiction for smart moms, maybe? Stuff like The Time Traveler's Wife or The Memory
3.5 stars

Single moments: those moments you're having a conversation with someone and you get lost within the jumble of words because your mind wraps itself around only a few phrases, gingerly separating them from the rest. Suddenly, these words hang in moments around you, sticking to your tongue like wet cotton candy, enfolding into word-clouds. Forget the conversation; you only hear those succulent words as they nourish your brain's appetite. While reading this book, I had quite a few of these
Jun 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
When Mia's husband Boris asks for a pause from their 30 year marriage to go frolicking with a French coworker, Mia ups and leaves for her home town to spend the summer there while trying to figure things out. In my first Hustvedt novel I was charmed, entertained and exposed to quite a lot of philosophy, feminism and neuroscience. It was a successful mix.

To occupy herself throughout the summer, Mia teaches a poetry workshop for a handful of local girls. She also visits her mother who lives in an
switterbug (Betsey)
The front cover of the advanced reader's copy I hold in my hand depicts a woman, dynamically in flight, yet with an image of dismemberment, as the title takes the place of the woman's trunk. Hustvedt is no stranger to dismemberment, both in fiction and in life. If you peer into her history with novelist husband, Paul Auster, you will note that she has a stepson with a troubled past that features dismemberment, although once removed. In THE BLINDFOLD, the main character, Iris (Siri spelled backwa ...more
Oct 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 and 1/2 stars

This is a 'mature' novel that's very aware of itself as being a novel, though the fictional narrator is writing her own story. It's also both more and less than a novel, with more discourses than plot (which the narrator herself points out more than halfway through) and, going against what we've been taught about fiction, it's more telling than showing -- and it all works. As Francine Prose writes in Reading Like a Writer (using an an Alice Munro story as an example) : "There are
This was a slightly lesser Hustvedt for once, but still it is worth reading. As the title suggests, relationships between men and women play a central role in this novel, but the men are not the main characters, they are literally absent. It’s Mia Fredericksen that is the supposed writer of these memories and musings. She’s a 55-year-old professor of literature, suddenly left by her husband for a young chick, after 30 years of marriage, and she has a hard time coming to terms with that. After a ...more
Jan 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Polymathic chicklit with a PhD: something I'd been hoping to find for ten years. Some time ago I had concluded it just didn't get published as there wasn't enough of an audience.

I'd never read Siri Hustvedt before, assuming that her books were yet more run-of-the-mill English-language literary fiction. (The rest of her work does still sound that way to me, TBH.) But a few weeks ago I idly clicked on Amazon reviews for this book, and among the more negative ones, it was criticised by chicklit re
Jul 07, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I started this book with the feeling that I would enjoy it a lot. I didn't. It's not a bad novel and I can certainly see how many people enjoy it, but the problem for me was that the characters felt like they weren't fleshed out enough. I didn't get a connection to Mia as the main character. I thought the widows has potential to be interesting, but too little attention was paid to them to make me truly connect. I thought that the young girls in the poetry class were the ones that were characteri ...more
I probably never would have read this if it hadn't been for the other Siri Hustvedt books I've read, What I Loved and The Sorrows of an American. I've got to admit that the title and premise didn't really appeal to me, sounding as they do like highbrow chick-lit. The basic outline of the story is this: Mia, a poet in her fifties, has a nervous breakdown when her scientist husband tells her he wants a 'pause' in their marriage in order for him to start an affair with a younger colleague. After re ...more
Aug 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Thirty years on, poet Mia Fredricksen’s husband Boris asks her for a pause in their marriage so he can explore his feelings for his young French lab assistant. First things first: Mia goes crazy and ends up in a mental hospital for a short time. But then she sucks it up and goes back to her Minnesota hometown to teach poetry writing to teen girls for a summer, getting sucked into a bullying drama. She also makes friends with her neighbors and her mother’s cadre of old ladies – I especially loved ...more
Joan Winnek
Mar 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book as much as all the other books by Siri Hustvedt I've read, and didn't really find the ending all that abrupt, as I've known situations like this in life. The narrator returns to her home town for a summer as a kind of retreat, and engages herself with her mother and her four friends in Rolling Meadows East, and with a group of seven pubescent girls in a poetry class she teaches, and with her next-door neighbor and her two children. The comparisons of the various stages of life ...more
Jun 19, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-june-22

I enjoyed this immensely loved the musings on life, ageing, sanity, marriage, growing up, etc.
I’d probably have liked it to be a bit longer and go deeper here and there, but overall thoroughly recommend it.
Karen Leopoldina
Predictably, given Hustvedt's stature in the literary community, this novel has garnered extremely favourable reviews. Unfortunately, the novel itself does not live up to the hyperbole. The work of some authors you just really want to like. For me, Hustvedt is one of these. She can write well, she occasionally takes 'risks' (or what seem like them), and she is erudite and self-effacing in person (ok, i heard her read and talk once, and i was swooning).
The narrator of this novel, Mia Frederickson
Feb 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, best-2018
(The better loooking version of this review on my blog:

Absences that can be felt. Storms that can mirror the rage inside the psyche of a main character after going through a mental breakdown when, after 30 years of marriage, her husband decides he wants a break. The break is French “with limp but shiny brown hair”. Small things, objects that can “come to signify a whole world of feeling”. The unspoken which determines and directs reactions. Power that ca
May 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So, my first Siri H. Still zero on the Paul A. front, I have accumulated a serious number of books by him and have no idea which one will be the first. Yeah, problems.

It was sort of a pleasant book, although I cannot say if I'm going to remember much of it in the future. I don't mean to say it wasn't memorable, but time will say. There are aspects I liked a lot, there are also some which kind of annoyed me - I am not the biggest fan of theoretical writing, poetry and such (??), but although I th
Firstly, I should note that a book called "The Summer Without Men" and a cover image of a woman with outstretched arms already seems like a noxious cliché. But if you think this is going to be a story of women affirming each other's womanliness and so forth in a pastoral setting or some such thing, think again.

Rather, I got a beautifully vicious, snarky novel by one of America's finest living writers. People are shitty. Old people are shitty, young people are shitty, men are shitty, women are sh
Aug 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2015
This is the fourth Siri Hustvedt novel I have read, and I can now say that she is consistently readable, thought-provoking and full of ideas. This one at first glance appears to have very little plot, but is packed with sharp and humourous observations on life, love and people's motivations, mixed with a fair bit of philosophy and psychology. It tells the tale of a woman whose husband decides to take a "pause" in their marriage to pursue an affair, while she retreats to her childhood hometown in ...more
Anna Ryan-Punch
Feb 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reading-again
I know it's an early call, but this might just be my favourite book of 2011. It is hilarious, intensely moving, beautiful, ugly and honest. It struck home on so many occasions I came out feeling like I'd been run through with hundreds of perfectly realised spears.

It surprised how I think about narrative. The effortless way Hustvedt jumps from introspection to narrative, from explication to description, is endlessly inventive and almost always successful. She writes like a novelist should write p
Feb 12, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american
"we are all dying one by one"

*warning weird seemingly irrelevant review ahead, but it seemed relevant at the time*

A long time ago I was a child. Okay not that long ago. I was a weird child, who grew into a weird adult.

But back when I was a child once my aunt showed me my IEP. For those of you who didn't spend any time in the special ed room an IEP is an education plan that, well it says what the special ed department intends to do about your particular annoyingness and what they think caused it
Mar 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Originally posted on Snapshot Inkblot Whatnot

Even before I had a copy of any book by Siri Hustvedt, I was already keen on liking her prose mainly because Bennard said I would love her. Which, for all I know, is a contrived effort to make Hustvedt my new favorite author--Hustvedt that is wife to Paul Auster, one of Bennard's favorites. Well, planned or not, it appears that he is right. I loved Hustvedt instantly, the love-at-first-few-pages kind.

Aside from being my first novel by new favorite aut
Jun 15, 2018 rated it did not like it
Ok, so I gave it one star, mainly because it feels like - successful academic/novelist resting on her laurels. It feels like autobio - the narrator is a 55 year old woman with red hair, who has a university teaching background and oh, is part-time poet.
(Ditto Ms H.)

Bits I do like - she's funny about Boris - her husband, who wanted a "pause" from the marriage. And her analysis of the 7 teens is exactly right - she includes extracts from their class assignments - a neat little device to differenti
B the BookAddict
My second Hustvedt book and although I did like it better than The Sorrows of an American, I don't feel compelled to read any more of her novels. Mia's relationships with her elderly mother and the 'Four Swans' (mother's friends) is quite lovely. But the writer's habit of quoting and ruminating of historical authors, while relevant, is too long winded.

My copy has some paragraphs which run for four or five pages each and I found this to be tiring: felt like I was running out of breath and kept lo
May 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: y2016, here, favourites, y2018
04/18 upon re-reading this book is REALLY NOT THAT GREAT AT ALL and so unsubtle but idc still here for the secret amusements and the female cast

03/16 to be honest this book was kind of weird and inconsistent and also v. different in tone from hustvedt's other work, but i just liked reading about the secret amusements a lot
Jan 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
4.5 stars - I enjoyed myself so much while reading this. Another great novel by Siri Hustvedt and maybe even the one I'd recommend to pick up first. ...more
Kathryn Bashaar
I both loved and hated this book. The things that annoyed me:
1. My first annoyance can be summed up in the last sentence of the book: "Let him come to me." The main character, Mia, has no agency whatsoever in her marriage. Boris deserts her, she goes nuts for a while, she spends a summer with her mom, her mom's friends, some poetry students and a neighbor, and then Boris more or less randomly comes back to her. Women writers complain that we aren't taken as seriously as male writers. Maybe it's
Jun 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actual rating 4.5

Very intelligent.
So very intelligent in fact, I wasn't sure in the beginning if I would get it or if it would be too much hard work.
Rest assured, I did, and it was brilliant.
My first try at Siri Hustvedt - spotted it on a libraryshelf and got it because I had seen it on bookstagram just the day before.
Something just has to be said for curiously entering a novel without knowing anything about it.
The narrator, Mia, was distinctly different to other narrators I've encountered, as s
May 25, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was NOT 192 pages....anyhow...I read another book by this author, so when I saw this galley at work, I jumped to take it. That being said, it was a confusing, meandering read that had many good qualities, but a lot of bad ones as well. The main plot is about a woman whose husband cheats on her, so she goes a big looney and ends up in the mental ward. She then moves back home with her older mother, and hangs out with her mother's elderly friends who are all ailing and/or dying, a next d ...more
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2018
This book stirred feelings and thoughts on old age, mortality, and important relationships. And there was that beautiful paragraph about how, after decades of marriage, your other senses - not just the eyes - make you realize how much you love your spouse.
Dec 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I do enjoy Siri Hustvedt. This is the second book by her I have read this year. Beautifully written with a light and sure touch. One thing I did like was that she didn't dot all the Is and cross all the Ts - we are left to speculate on some things in the story. ...more
Mia Vicino
Aug 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i like any book that centers on a protagonist with my name and contains multiple references to cary grant. more novels should do this
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Goodreads Librari...: Duplicates 2 17 Jul 31, 2017 12:52AM  
North East Readers: The Summer Without Men 4 10 Nov 01, 2011 01:08AM  

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Hustvedt was born in Northfield, Minnesota. Her father Lloyd Hustvedt was a professor of Scandinavian literature, and her mother Ester Vegan emigrated from Norway at the age of thirty. She holds a B.A. in history from St. Olaf College and a Ph.D. in English from Columbia University; her thesis on Charles Dickens was entitled Figures of Dust: A Reading of Our Mutual Friend.

Hustvedt has mainly made

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